CRM History

Let’s bore you with a brief history of CRM while taking a nostalgic lope down CRM Lane.

In the beginning there was PIM, or Personal Information

Manager – a limited use, all purpose electronic diary with basic database functionality, that you could use to start organizing your names and addresses, and time, amongst other things. These PIM’s are good personal productivity tools, but they tend to fall over when applied in a business environment with a more demanding requirement.

The PIM slowly morphed into the CMS, or Contact Management System, as a result of its increasing take on by people in sales and marketing, incorporating a more specific set of requirements to help them scale the coalface. Contact Managers are fantastic, flexible productivity tools for most anybody or organization. They are also more robust, with improved industrial strength database engines, that are better able to manage larger volumes of data.

Contact Management software became SFA, as in Sales Force Automationsystems, what now forms the cornerstone of modern CRM applications. CRM is short for Customer Relationship Management, which is the industry term for the set of methodologies and tools that help an enterprise manage customer relationships in an organized way.

Not to mention that some mutated into ERM, sometimes referred to as eCRM (electronic Customer Relationship Management), PRM, with Pro and Liteversions of everything to take products in and out of their respective weight divisions. Not to be confused with ERP, as in Enterprise Resource Planning that is back-end stuff; CRM is front-end. ERP is infamous for negative ROI and implementations that run waaay over budget. Not always so with CRM!

Enter Microsoft, who had been watching developments, with more than passing interest, from the sidelines, with Microsoft Outlook. Once they felt that this sector had now come of age and entered the domain of mainstream software ie. their domain, it was time to make their foray; their hostile move into this space.
The CRM world trembled! But without too much justification, it turns out. Microsoft had, and still has, a bit to learn about CRM. If anything they helped grow the CRM market by creating further awareness of the benefits of CRM.
Many of the legacy CRM applications – those that have been around for quite a while and started out in life as Contact Managers or even lowly PIM‘s in the good ol’, bad ol’ DOS days – pre-date email and the internet. They constantly had to re-invent themselves as trends dictated.
It was adapt or die, and there were many casualties – some were swallowed up by others or bought out by competitors, only to be put straight out to pasture, eliminated because of their nuisance value. Others couldn’t take the heat and slowly disappeared off the radar, leaving their users high-and-dry or ‘data hostages’.
Others again died, or are dying, from the insidious death of bloatware malaise, the software equivalent of obesity ie. adding features for the sake of adding features. Rather than listening to what the customer actually needs, which, in most cases, is simply a more stable product, developers are often more concerned about outdoing their opposition, and end up losing the plot as a consequence! Watch my lips – less features, better performance.